E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke: Fabulous Cancellera


One solid attack on the Oude Kwaremont gave Fabian Cancellara the small gap he needed with 35km to go to win the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke in Belgium.

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‘Spartacus’ got the job done.


Powering up the climb and seeing daylight behind him, Cancellara went into time trial mode to steadily gain time on the way into Harelbeke, taking the solo win by sixty-eight seconds. Chasing riders failed to organize into a unified effort and splintered into groups that were unable to catch the Swiss Radioshack Leopard Trek rider.

“I did my job, I did what I had to do,” said Cancellara. “When you are in good condition you have to go for it because you never know what will happen next. It’s important to carry on and finish the job. With the crash last year, this is a very special moment for me. A big thank you to my wife and family and to the entire team for supporting me during this time.”

Cancellara, 32, chalked up his third win in E3, adding to his growing list of cycling achievements, including Olympic time trial champion in 2008, four-time world time trial champion, two-time winner of Paris-Roubaix and wearer of the maillot jaune in the Tour de France for 28 days, just to name just a few.

Second place went to Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in a photo finish over Daniel Oss of BMC. Cancellara: “It was intuition to go on the Oude Kwaremont and just see if I could break down the group a little more. We knew the Oude Kwaremont was an important key in the race, as it will be in the Tour of Flanders, as we watched some days ago the finale of E3 of 2011 and 2012 on the computer. Also this is part of the preparation for the race.”

[pullquote] “It was intuition to go on the Oude Kwaremont and just see if I could break down the group a little more. We knew the Oude Kwaremont was an important key in the race, as it will be in the Tour of Flanders,[/pullquote]

“You have to take it when you can as you never know what tomorrow brings. After my crash in Flanders last year this was my first race on this special ground. I saw that there were many Omega Pharma-QuickSteps in the front, so I decided to try something. I went alone and Dirk Demol kept telling me ‘keep on going’. It was a so hard but such a unique experience. Many things crossed my mind. This is a great win for me and for the team. Anything that will come now is a bonus. Also I send best wishes to Eddy Merckx who is in the hospital now.”

Cancellara will race again on Sunday in Gent Wevelgem, followed the next week by Tour of Flanders. Fabian: “Will I be picked as the favorite now for Flanders and Roubaix? That’s life. The most important goals are indeed still coming but let’s celebrate first. We worked months for this. Now I can tackle the other races in a more relaxed way. I feel renewed confidence with this win but also renewed pressure as well. In the end it’s a victory and I know I’ve done my job.”

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma Quickstep) Happy
“From the Taaienberg on we were ahead with that group and there was a lot of wind,” Boonen said. “We really had to push to get a gap and I didn’t have the luxury of feeling comfortable enough to eat. Then on the Kwaremont, the light went out for a few minutes. I had a very tough moment on the Kwaremont. I thought it was the end of the race for me.” [pullquote]on the Kwaremont, the light went out for a few minutes.[/pullquote]

“But after that, I took some gels and a bottle, and recovered well after that. But of course, the other guys in the chase, they were gone. In normal conditions, I would never drop from that situation. But today, I was already happy to be there. It was the first final I did for this season. It was a nice race for a start. I think at the end I am very happy with the results and also the feelings in the race. I think it shows I don’t have to worry that much.”

Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma Quickstep)
“Today Cancellara was very strong,” Chavanel said. “Behind him we tried to chase. There was collaboration between us after the Kwaremont, but it wasn’t possible to catch him. The final was really fast due to the tailwind and it was a bit too late. As for my performance, I felt good today even if not super, but this is the first of a series of races where I can be a protagonist. Until Paris-Roubaix I will try to be there.”

BMC Racing Team’s Daniel Oss Third
In third was Daniel Oss after being part of a five-man chase group that was unable to close the gap to winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard). Oss matched his best result of the season by attacking his group inside the final kilometre in a bid to solo to second place. But Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) caught him just before the line for the runner-up spot. “I felt good during the week and today I was also feeling good,” Oss said.

“I waited until the moment in the race for the big men to make their move. Yesterday, I looked at the parcours so knew where I could go in front. I gave my best.”

Geraint Thomas Fourth

Former British Road Race Champion Geraint Thomas was forced to chase down Oss’s late attack on his own as his rivals dallied behind and then, to add insult to injury, Sagan used his considerable pace to latch on to the Welshman’s wheel before wrapping up the runner’s up spot with a last late kick for the line. A Team Sky spokesman said “he had to make the choice to chase Oss at the end there because you never know how the others will react behind you. It was unfortunate for G that Sagan chased onto his wheel because he did a great job in closing that gap to Oss.”

2nd for Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan, a rider many expected to do better than he has so far, was happy with second. “As the race went today, I can tell you I am happy with this second place,” said Sagan. “Just after refueling, before starting the series of walls, I had a problem with the front wheel and broke it. I had to wait for Marangoni give me a bike, then I started the comeback. I spent more energy to get back into the first group, plus on a bike a different size from mine.”

“Today was the starter, Sunday is Gent-Wevelgem and then the major goal, the Tour of Flanders. The second in ‘Sanremo’ and second again today in Haralbeke are positive signs about my condition. I always knew that winning a classic is very difficult but I am calm, I feel good and Sunday games are open. Maybe it’s fate that should have patience to win the first classic … “. [pullquote]Today was the starter, Sunday is Gent-Wevelgem and then the major goal, the Tour of Flanders.[/pullquote]

Thanks to today’s result, Peter Sagan leads the UCI World Tour with 152 points, one point more than Cancellara (second) and ten more than Chavanel (third).

1 CANCELLARA Fabian RadioShack – Leopard 05:08:28
2 SAGAN Peter Cannondale Pro Cycling Team 01:04
3 OSS Daniel BMC Racing Team @ st
4 THOMAS Geraint Sky Procycling @ st
5 LANGEVELD Sebastian Orica GreenEDGE 01:08
6 CHAVANEL Sylvain Omega Pharma – Quick-Step @ st
7 BOONEN Tom Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 02:15
8 PAOLINI Luca Katusha Team @ st
9 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald Sky Procycling @ st
10 TURGOT Sébastien Europcar @ st
11 HAUSSLER Heinrich IAM Cycling @ st
12 IGLINSKIY Maxim Astana Pro Team @ st
13 OFFREDO Yoann Equipe Cycliste FDJ @ st
14 ROJAS GIL Jose Joaquin Movistar Team @ st
15 BOLE Grega Vacansoleil – DCM @ st
16 SCHAR Michael BMC Racing Team @ st
17 VENTOSO ALBERDI Francisco José Movistar Team @ st
18 LINDEMAN Bert-Jan Vacansoleil – DCM @ st
19 VAN KEIRSBULCK Guillaume Omega Pharma – Quick-Step @ st
20 KOREN Kristjan Cannondale Pro Cycling Team @ st

23 STANNARD Ian Sky Procycling @ st
28 HAYMAN Mathew Sky Procycling @ st
36 EISEL Bernhard Sky Procycling 02:27
48 GILBERT Philippe BMC Racing Team @ 5.11
70 ROWE Luke Sky Procycling @ 9.46

DNF DOWSETT Alex Movistar Team
DNF MILLAR David Garmin – Sharp
DNF HUSHOVD Thor BMC Racing Team
DNF KEISSE Iljo Omega Pharma – Quick-Step


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